we’ve been through a lot, she and i.
she stood on a globe with shooting stars circling it, a butterfly perched on her right hand, offered up to the gods like a tithe, the astral winds pulling at her gown, defining her voluptuousness. it would have been easy to walk right by her, many had, but she drew me to her with her simple, pleasant expression, her rather demure demeanor, eyes downcast, hesitant and hopeful as if at the next moment she would lift her face to you and speak.
she came home with me from an antique store on clark st. just north of fullerton in chicago on a rainy day in 1975 when i was on one of my long walks. i think i paid $95 for her (a lot of money then) and was told she was made around the turn of the century (20th) and was composed of ‘white metal’–which, at the time, i was too afraid of not knowing what it meant, that i didn’t ask what ‘white metal’ was–it was years later that i found out, but many years before wikipedia. i set her on the top of an old wooden secretary desk in my high-rise studio apartment and she resided there, close to the ceiling for a few years, taking note of my failures (many) and triumphs (few) and then followed me from one encampment to the next, losing the butterfly along the way, (was it 18th st., wolfram st., wolcott ave., piiholo rd.? idk.), until i landed in california (amethyst ave., crystal sands dr.) where she became a garden ornament.
she didn’t weather well. an arm fell off. i saved it for a few years, then threw it away when she separated from the globe she’d been standing on. i kept the globe and stuck her one foot into the ground and watched the ivy claim her, and then i would pull that away, but the ivy had different plans and the next time i found her she’d been embraced once again by it’s tendrils and intentions. the globe on its art nouveau base still exists and is sitting next to her, just out of view to the left. the gilt has long disappeared and she’s been pock-marked from the heat, the dry, the rain, and the sun until her surface is rough and uncomfortable to touch.
a few months ago, i rescued her from laying upright against the base of the birdbath where she’d taken up residency a few years before. protected from the bird’s droppings by the overhang of the clay bowl, but still majestic in her own way. this ‘rescue’ involved laying her on a patio table and ignoring her for months, not sure what to do with her. i’ve been slowly ‘de-accessioning’ the garden: when plants die, i’m letting the ivy take over, when the honeysuckle needed removing, i pulled out the trellis and threw it away; the decorative birdhouses that housed hummingbirds and wrens, but fell on hard times, have been tossed, my intention is less time devoted to maintenance, although my gardening motto is “benign neglect”. it’s just too much anymore–as long as the garden’s schedule conflicts with my own. there may come a day when i’ll “re-up” and have the time to devote to it, but that’s not now.
but what to do about her? and her companion, whom i’ve not even mentioned–she once held a round walnut clock in her outstretched art deco hands, perky breasts and luxurious thighs sitting on a walnut base, but somewhere along the line, she lost those and became a sister to the goddess. she, too, has stories to tell, but she’s the soul of discretion, you’ll not get a word out of her.
for now, they’ll lay here, moldering, but not unloved. one day, i may have the heart (and the courage) to toss them, but not yet, i’m not quite ready to let go of those times and motivations, those yeses and nos, the glitter and the tarnish.